Northern Soul (film)

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Northern Soul
Northern Soul 2014 movie poster.jpg
UK theatrical poster
Directed byElaine Constantine
Written byElaine Constantine
Produced byDebbie Gray
CinematographySimon Tindall
Edited byStephen Haren
Stubborn Heart Films
Baby Cow Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • 17 October 2014 (2014-10-17)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1.1 million[1]

Northern Soul is a 2014 British historical film directed by Elaine Constantine. It tells the story of two young Lancashire teenagers, Matt and John, whose lives are changed forever by the discovery of African-American soul music and the dance culture that grew up around it in Britain. The film was selected to be shown in the City to City section of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival.[2]


Set in Lancashire in 1974, the film follows Matt and John as they leave behind a humdrum life of youth clubs and factory lines to chase a dream of travelling to the US, unearthing unknown soul 45s and establishing themselves as top DJ's on the Northern soul music scene. Their dance and amphetamine fuelled quest brings them into contact with some of the darker elements of the scene and tests their friendship to its limits.[3]



The film was a 15-year labour of love for writer/director Elaine Constantine. Turned down by all the major funding bodies, key festivals and institutional production partners in the UK, the film was eventually funded through a mix of private investors and Constantine's substantial personal investment. The film was eventually picked up for distribution by Universal Pictures who sub-licensed the theatrical release to Munro Film Services. Despite only being given a three-day theatrical window and a limited marketing campaign, the film went on to become the widest short-window release to date in the UK according to its producers. Initially expected to open on six to fourteen screens nationally, the film opened on 89 screens on its opening night and 120 screens across its opening weekend. With 97/98 % seat occupancy across 235 individual screenings these were enough to propel the film into the box office top 10 for its opening weekend.[4]

The soundtrack from the film reached no. 7 in the UK Compilation Chart.[5] On 2 December the movie was released on Netflix in the United States.[6]


The film has had a warm reception with the public and critics alike.[7][8][9] On publication of early projections for the number of independent screens due to take the film, social media groups sprang up campaigning for the film to come to their local cinema. This grass roots pressure on local indie screens, which included 23 Ourscreen bookings; the committed efforts of Munro Film Services and a growing media interest in the film's progress saw distribution snowball to the levels above.[10] The film went on to screen in nearly 300 separate cinemas and other venues in the UK.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 76% based on reviews from 38 critics. The site's consensus is, "Northern Soul overcomes its spotty narrative with a likable cast, rich period atmosphere, and a killer soundtrack that perfectly captures the time."[11] On Metacritic it has a score 64% based on reviews from 14 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12] Mark Kermode of The Guardian was one of several critics who gave the film four stars, saying, "Constantine catches the energy of the dancehall with aplomb, transporting her audiences from the empty floors of dour neighbourhood youth clubs to the throng of the Wigan Casino with urgent ease. Steve Coogan and Ricky Tomlinson add sly cameo support. Definitely worth a spin".[3]


  • 2015 BAFTA Outstanding Debut for a Writer, Director or Producer Award - Nominated.[9][13]
  • 2015 NME Best film of 2014 - WINNER[14]
  • 2015 London Critics Circle Breakthrough British Filmmaker Award — Nominated.[15]

Northern Soul won the NME Best Film Award 2015 on 18 February 2015.[14] The award was voted for by the general public, confirming the popularity of the film. The film was up against Boyhood, Frank, Get On Up, God Help The Girl, and The Inbetweeners 2.


  1. ^ "Northern Soul". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  2. ^ "Sandra Bullock's 'Our Brand Is Crisis,' Robert Redford's 'Truth' to Premiere at Toronto". Variety. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b Mark Kermode. "Northern Soul review – impressive evocation of the 70s dance cult". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Northern Soul is a surprise top 10 hit at the UK box office as the Turtles roll in". The Guardian. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Official Compilations Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  6. ^ "New Titles on Netflix US (Dec. 2, 2015)". Archived from the original on 3 December 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  7. ^ Nadia Khomami. "Niche northern soul film set to hit big time as social media fuels demand for screenings". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  8. ^ Mark Kermode. "Northern Soul review – impressive evocation of the 70s dance cult". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  9. ^ a b Charles Gant. "Elaine Constantine: 'You may have a shit job, but you iron your clothes and polish your shoes'". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  10. ^ Nadia Khomami. "Niche northern soul film set to hit big time as social media fuels demand for screenings". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Northern Soul". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Northern Soul". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Film in 2015". Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  14. ^ a b NME News Desk (18 February 2015). "NME News The full winners list at NME Awards 2015 with Austin, Texas revealed - NME.COM". NME.COM. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  15. ^ "The London Critics' Circle Film Section". Retrieved 28 January 2015.

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